Christine Balling is a senior fellow in Latin American Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council. In 2009, Ms. Balling founded Fundación ECCO, a Colombian-registered nonprofit organization that promoted democracy and youth leadership in areas of conflict. She led counter-recruitment projects in areas where the FARC insurgency operated, working with the Colombian Army, Air Force and the National Police. In 2014, the Colombian Army incorporated Ms. Balling’s counter- recruitment model into the non-kinetic component of its mission. She has lectured at the Escuela Superior de Guerra (ESDEGUE) in Bogotá at a Latin American conference on counter-terrorism and has lectured about the experiences of female FARC and ELN fighters at the National Defense University’s William J. Perry Center.
From 2013 to 2014, Ms. Balling served as a Subject Matter Expert to the U.S. Special Operations South (SOCSOUTH) commander on demobilization and counter-recruitment issues and partnered with U.S. Army Civil Affairs teams downrange in Colombia. In 2014, she worked with the Colombian military’s demobilization group (GAHD) to create the first tactical guide on demobilization.
Ms. Balling has performed extensive fieldwork in conflict areas and has interviewed numerous female demobilized FARC and ELN fighters. She has published several articles in Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, and the Small Wars Journal.
In June 2015, Ms. Balling was pinned by the Colombian Minister of Defense with the Colombian Armed Forces’ “Medal of Distinguished Service” in recognition of her counter-recruitment and demobilization work in Colombia. She serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Universidad El Bosque in Bogotá and is a Senior Fellow for Latin American Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C. Working with the USMC Small Wars Center in Quantico, VA, she co-authored NATO military doctrine regarding female insurgents.
In June 2016 and January 2017, Ms. Balling travelled to Iraqi Kurdistan to interview members of an all-female Yazidi peshmerga unit. She published articles for Foreign Affairs about her experiences.
Ms. Balling received her B.A. cum laude in English Literature at Barnard College, Columbia University and earned an Executive M.A. in National Security Affairs at the Institute of World Politics in May 2016.